book review

The Book That Gets You In the End | Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Friday, March 24, 2017

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Pages: 599
Source: BEA
Add It to Goodreads

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Kady chose the perfect day to break up with her boyfriend: the day their homes get destroyed. Separated on different rescue ships, Kady and Ezra seem closer together than they ever were when they were actually together. With her coding genius, Kady begins to unmask the real reason their homes were destroyed. The ships’ commands are keeping a lot of things from its civilians. In order to get to the bottom of this mess, she involves Ezra because this is no longer something as small as them. A war is starting and Kady is the only one with the tools to stop it.


The hype surrounding the book: I usually don’t like much hype unless it’s warranted. Gemina, the sequel to Illuminae released not too long ago so I have been hearing tons about this book. It was definitely something I would have never picked up. I tend to sneak away from science fiction. However, the hype truly got me reading this book and I am definitely glad I did. 

The fresh format: I don’t read a lot of epistolary books. It is not that I don’t like the format, it is not a format I usually gravitate toward. However, I loved Illuminae’s structure. While reading, you will come across emails, classified files, launch reports and camera security files. With the format, the pacing speeds by.

The innocent feelings Ezra has for Kady: Maybe they aren’t so innocent. But his feelings for Kady were some normalcy to hold onto in the face of the disasters they were going through on their ships. It was a refresher. Every time Ezra dropped some cute line on Kady, it was a nice, relaxing point. We are all still humans with emotions, no matter what we are going through.

AIDEN: Readers don’t get to see his true character until the second half of the book. AIDEN is an AI, artificial intelligence, who starts to have insane tendencies. I don’t know why I like him so much. I adore his attempts at sarcasm when Kady and I are freaking out. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough and here, AIDEN is trying to make jokes. I couldn’t even. 

The second half of the book: This is where it gets good. The first half was all background for the second half to come. Things actually start picking up in the second half. It was the last half of the book that I was debating whether or not I should rate it four stars or not. It was THAT GOOD! From the first half, the second half is such a turnaround. It will probably be the reason I pick up the second book, if at all. 


Not moving fast enough: Like I said, the first half is borderline boring. It is setting up for the explosion which is the second half of the book. But you have to get through the whole beginning to get to the end, right? That’s the difficult part. If you were to divide the book in half: the first plot would be nothing but the on-goings of two ships in space, while being chased by a ship that never seems to catch up to them and the second half would be about crewmembers, with a spreading virus, taking over the ship.  I just wish the plot had moved a little faster. I understand without the beginning, the second half would have made little sense but the way it was presented, the flow seemed to lag in the beginning.


Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman create a genius epistolary-style novel which will have readers scrambling for the next installment. 

Illuminae (10/20/15): 3 stars
Gemina (10/18/16): TBA

book discussion

Thoughts on Watching the TV Show Before Reading the Book

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confession: I vow to read the book before seeing the show or the movie its based on. However, it never always happens that way.

There are tons of advantages to reading the book first because you actually get to form your own opinion before the film ruins it for you. With the Outlander series, I promised to read it before seeing the show. It's just the book is the size of a monster, with super thin pages and small font. On a particularly lazy day, I decided I've waited long enough and watched the show in a matter of a few weeks. I didn't read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon until much later, before the second season of the show came out. I don't regret reading it after as both the show and the book are absolutely fantastic. Here's some thoughts on seeing the show before reading the book:

It makes more sense.

I don't know about you but the Outlander books take me ages to finish. I can't pinpoint why because each one is storytelling at its best with gorgeous character development and amazing settings. I adore the series. However, in a way, I am glad that I saw the first two seasons of Outlander before reading the first two books. Having done that, it seems to make a little more sense in two ways. (1) I don't know if I miss sentences here or there while reading since the font is so small. Or maybe the book itself is filled with little gaps that do not transition into the next scene. Somewhere, I get lost along the way and if I was just reading the book (without having seen the show), I would have lost some meaning of where the characters were headed. Since I saw the show, I know at this point, this happens so the show is close enough to the book that I can usually fill the gaps that here they've changed setting or they've moved on to this. (2) I seem to be much more sympathetic to why the show didn't add this scene or why they added this scene but not that one. As a show, Outlander translates very well on screen but there is just so much you can add in a season as an adaptation of a 800 page book.

Outlander tv season 2 sad what GIF

It's like getting extras of the TV show.

I absolutely love watching extras, behind the scenes and bloopers after finishing a show. It is so much fun to see what the cast went through into bringing the story to life. The book has more to offer than the show. Outlander, the TV show, can't fit every little detail on to the screen. It would become way too long. On the page, Diana Gabaldon is able to portray her characters in a timeless story where readers are connected to the characters. When reading the scenes that were not in the show, I felt like I was watching the extended version inside my mind. 

Outlander tv season 2 beer drink GIF

I already knew what was vaguely going to happen.

As much as some parts made a little bit more sense, as I stated above, this is probably one of the many downsides of seeing the show first. The show won't always be the same or so closely adapted to the book. But, with Outlander, the show and book are amazingly similar. A lot of the scenes are taken straight out of the book.

Outlander tv season 2 starz vision GIF

I can see it visually already.

This is another downside. Just like, having seen the first few Harry Potter movies and then going back to rereading the books, you can't unsee Daniel Radcliffe as Harry or Emma Watson as Hermoine. Same goes with Outlander. The characters in my head are not of my own making. I see Sam Heughan as Jamie and the rest of the cast as all the other characters.

Image result for cast of outlander

Most of the book is in 1st person, whereas the show is in 3rd person.

This is definitely something of a change. The show, in order to be more well rounded, it can't just focus on Claire and her thoughts. The show gives us more structure, chronologically,  to the story. For example, simultaneously two scenes will be happening. The show will be able to portray that. Whereas, in the Outlander book series, Claire-- our protagonist-- sees only what she can see. She may not know about this other scene happening at the same time. So, there were many times in the book that I knew what had happened but Claire did not know at that point. She bases her opinions on what she knows, of course, so it was difficult to feel the same way, to feel connected to her, because I already knew what had happened.

Have you ever seen the movie/show before reading the book? 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books I'm Reading This Spring

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm easily distracted today with the heavy snowfall outside my window. It is incredibly hard to even think it may be Spring soon when I'm freezing in my reading corner. However, I hope Spring is coming soon so I can read all the awesome books I have planned to devour.

Top Ten Tuesday is created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (8/7/01): Outlander books are always a huge undertaking for me because they are monster-sized books. I'm currently reading the sequel to Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber. I absolutely love these books and I want to read the third book before the third season comes out in September so I am all caught up. Wish me luck with this since these books take me a good month to finish.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (5/2/17): When I heard Han was releasing a third book, I was excited! I have no clue where the story will go since I did think it was over in its second book but I have no doubt, the book will be as great as the other two.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (5/5/15): I recently read Cruel Beauty and was pleasantly surprised at how amazing the plot turned out to be. There are just so many Red Riding Hood retellings that I'm a bit hesitant to begin this one but it will be read this spring.

And I Darken by Kiersten White (6/28/16): Ever since I read Paranormalcy, White has become an auto-buy author for me. I bought this one months ago and intended to read it this winter. It hasn't been read yet so I'm going to devour it and hopefully its sequel sometime this spring.

How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras (11/3/15): I always try to sneak in some cute contemporary books to lighten my spring tbr. I want to read about sunny skies and sunglasses.

Caravel by Stephanie Garber (2/28/17): There is a huge hype surrounding this one and at first, it sounded like something I would read but now I am not so sure. However, I am hoping the hype will die done in the next few months so I can enjoy it without feeling so pressured in reading it and in loving it.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (5/16/17): A Mulan retelling! Next to King's Cage, this book is one of my highly anticipated reads of the year so I am impatiently waiting for it to come on my doorstep. You can bet I will be reading it as soon as it releases.

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (2/9/16): I need more pirates in my life and with the sequel coming out, the time to read this one is now.

On the Fence by Kasie West (7/1/14): After reading The Space Between Us and The Fill-In Boyfriend, Kasie West is definitely an auto-buy author for me and somehow I missed this one. Based on the cover, it definitely is giving off some spring or summer vibes so what better time to read it then.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (5/5/15): Is is strange that I've never read anything by Maas? I want to read Throne of Glass in the near future but I think I will start with this one.

What will you be reading this coming Spring?

Top Ten Tuesday

I Don't Reread Books But... | 10 Amazing Books I've Reread

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

It is very rare for me to read a book again. I just move on to the other thousand books waiting for me in my TBR pile. In the rare occasion of my rereading, the books must be over-the-top fantastic which is why I thought I’d list some of them below to give you some off-the-charts book recommendations.

Talking about rereads was something I have wanted to do for a while and having been blogging for over five years now, it is hard to believe that I haven’t talked about why I never reread books. The reason I have never touched on the subject til now is probably because it is so difficult to pinpoint exact reasons on why I don’t reread books. My top three reasons are: time (there is so little time and so many other books to read than going back and reading books I’ve already read), the book isn’t worth it (if it was only mediocre, why would I give it another go), and the mountain of my TBR (I feel like the hoarding dragon, Smaug, collecting all the pretty gold—can’t stay in one place for too long or the gold may gobble me up).


I don’t reread books but when I do, they are amazing. Here are 10 books I’ve reread that are totally worth a lifetime of rereads:

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson | The Luxe by Anna Godbersen | Hate List by Jennifer Brown | The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare | Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling | The Riddles of Epsilon by Christine Morton-Shaw | The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Riddle by Alison Croggon | Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Which books have you reread?

book review

A Sequel With No Limits | Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Friday, March 03, 2017

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: 1/3/17
Pages: 532
Source: purchased
Add It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

In Passenger, Nicholas and Etta journey through time to uncover the lost astrolabe, a relic that could reset the timeline to its original state. At the last second, the astrolabe, now found, is stolen once more. In Wayfarer, Nicholas must pick of the pieces to not only find the astrolabe again but also Etta, who is lost in time after it shifted. When he makes a deal with a witch, Nicholas seems to have gone too far; giving something valuable in order to find what truly matters to him may not have been worth it. Wayfarer is an epic sequel, surpassing even that of Passenger in a time travel epic that will astound you.

High-Stakes Adventure

  • We are literally thrown head first into this time travel adventure. There is absolutely no warning. This is most definitely the right way to start off a sequel. Passenger had a rough ending but Wayfarer brought the magic back so fast that you barely have time to breathe. I recommend binge-reading the series to get the most of it.
  • The action is undeniably thrilling. I couldn't stop reading even if I wanted to. Bracken would not give me a break and every scene was pure entertainment. It was heart-stopping, from beginning to end.
  • Nicholas has always been such a gentleman and I think we get much more of his gentle wholeheartedness in Wayfarer than we did in Passenger. It was great to see his character round out a bit more. In Wayfarer, time is of the essence, which definitely kicks everything up a notch. As much as I love Nicholas, I could strangle him for some of the decisions he made in this book. It turned my heart to see him in these circumstances that not only put people around him at risk but also himself. That, my reading friends, is gorgeous writing. In this high-stake adventure, you will be on the edge of your seat. Every chapter better than the last in this sequel which is better than the first.
  • It's always interesting when we get a new perspective on things. We can look at the story a little bit differently with a new view on it. Sometimes this comes in the way of multiple point-of-views, but with Wayfarer, we meet some new characters who have a very different way of seeing the past. It can easily put you on edge with whom to trust, whom to believe. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
  • Despite the fantastic plot, I am still quite unconvinced with Bracken's time logic. There just seems to be too many holes in her logic. For starters, a lot of people would be coming back from the dead if the timeline keeps getting rewritten. With their now-alive status, it would affect those around them and thus, keep changing the timeline to fit. Much of the time travel logic Bracken threw at us in this duology just didn't seem to add up all the way. However, taking a look at the most basic sense of her time travel, it is easy to ignore the otherwise holey points.
  • Wayfarer is filled with unexpected twists, a sequel that takes on an entirely new direction no one imagined. This is not just an adventure but an epic. It's absolutely incredible, a fascinating story that will steal your thoughts every minute of the day.
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A Sequel With No Limits

  • Finally, we are blessed with some major answers to the long list of questions we posed in Passenger. The sequel definitely does not disappoint, going above and beyond what we expected.
  • I was hesitant to read Wayfarer. If the ending of Passenger was any constellation what we had to look forward to in Wayfarer, I was ready to steer clear of it entirely. Despite my qualms, I was pleasantly surprised when Etta remembered her time in the first book, which was one of my concerns from the "going back to the beginning" ending of Passenger. You can read more about my disappointment of the ending to Passenger in my review, but I found it to be quite the cheat. In the end, I am happy I read Wayfarer: I wanted to know what happened and I'm immensely glad it turned out the way it did.
  • The prospect of going back to the beginning--as if the story itself is restarting gives Wayfarer a non-sequel-like quality. Bracken is essentially starting over. So, what you get is a fantastic story without the dump of explanations that held us back in the first book.
  • It is a sequel without limits. Bracken keeps adding layers to the plot with her new time travel logic, as well as all the different quests she puts her characters through. She could have easily made this into a trilogy. However, keeping it as a duology keeps it from becoming too long (though I doubt this series could ever be too long). It is just the right amount of amazing to make us keep coming back for multiple rereads.
  • This sequel certainly does not suffer from second book syndrome. Wayfarer actually begins to take a life of its own, beyond Passenger, within Bracken's time traveling world. It is tremendously amazing and entirely action-packed.

Coming Full Circle

  • Have you ever written a review and just had to stop because words fail you at just how awesome the book was? This is that review. I never saw the climax ending in such a way. It was a complete surprise and I am still floored because of it. Immediately, I was quick in tears, knowing that this is the end of the series. (It always takes me forever to finish series because I never like reading the end-- I don't want it to be over!) Wayfarer is a fantastic sequel that knows no bounds. You will be pining for a reread of this amazing duology just to visit the characters once more.
  • I absolutely adored how the beginning and the end connect with the prologue and epilogue, with the mother's story as a child. It was such a genius move to have the story come full circle in a way Passenger didn't. The ending will be sure to put a smile on your face (and maybe some happy tears too).


Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken is a magnificent sequel that goes beyond the confines of one, pushing you to give the duology an immediate reread. It will easily become one of you favorite series with its well-written characters and unexpected story.

Passenger (1/5/16): 4 stars
Wayfarer (1/3/17): 5 stars